Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grilled Sharp Cheddar Cheese Sandwiches with Cranberry-Walnut Relish

I almost burned these sandwiches. I pulled them out of the cast iron frying pan just in time. Whew!

10 ounces best quality cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
8 slices good quality firm white bread, such as challah
½-¾ cup Cranberry Walnut Relish with Grappa, see recipe below
Your own chilled cranberry sauce
About 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, at room temperature
Note: You can soften the butter in the microwave at 50% power for 1 minute.

1. On a cutting board, set out four slices of bread. Arrange half the cheese over the bread. Spread the relish over the cheese. Top the relish with the remaining cheese and set the remaining slices of bread on top. So it goes bread, cheese, cranberry, cheese, bread.
2. Evenly spread the top of each sandwich with about ½ tablespoon butter. Preheat the griddle or frying pan over medium/low heat. When hot, invert the sandwiches, butter side down, onto the pan. Quickly and evenly spread the tops of the sandwiches with the remaining butter. Cover and cook until the bottom is light golden and crisp, about 2½ minutes. Watch carefully. The sandwiches can burn so quickly.
3. Flip the sandwiches, cover the pan, turn the heat to low and cook until the bottom is golden brown, and the cheese is melting, another 2 to 2½ minutes. Again, watch carefully. Remove from the pan when done.
4. With a serrated knife, cut the sandwiches in half and serve immediately.

4 servings
Adapted from Carrie Brown’s The Jimtown Store Cookbook

Cranberry-Walnut Relish with Grappa
There are many wonderful cranberry relishes. I like this one a lot. You can make this ahead of time and add the walnuts a little before serving.

½ cup walnuts
1 tablespoon finely chopped orange zest
Juice of 1 orange and enough water or apple juice to equal ¾ cup
1 cup sugar
1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tablespoon grappa, optional
½ teaspoon salt or to taste

1. Preheat your oven or toaster oven to 400ºF.
2. Spread the walnuts in a single layer in a shallow metal pan and toast, stirring once, until crisp and lightly browned, about 3 minutes in the toaster oven, 5 to 8 minutes in the big one. Watch the nuts carefully. They can burn in an instant. Cool and coarsely chop.
3. In a medium non-reactive pan, combine the orange juice/water combination and sugar. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cranberries and simmer, uncovered, stirring once or twice until about half the cranberries have burst, 6 to 8 minutes. Frozen berries will take longer. Transfer to a glass or ceramic container.
4. Stir in the zest, grappa, if using, and salt. Cool to room temperature. The relish will thicken up as it cools.
5. Add the walnuts just before serving. The relish can be used immediately or covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Makes about 2 cups
Adapted from Carrie Brown’s The Jimtown Store Cookbook

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